I was really looking forward to getting this deck because I’m a big fan of iconography. Unfortunately, it looks like it had a rough time getting here:
But okay, it’s just the little book, which I’ll probably only use for a week or two at best… A few of the cards weren’t cut very well though.
I got past that because I really did want all that beautiful artwork right under my fingers.
It looks better in the photos. The images on the card faces aren’t as crisp as they should be. The card stock is really just too thick and that makes for some difficult shuffling, especially if you’re shuffling challenged (like I am).
I know, I know, all that sounds pretty negative. I’ve been working with this deck for a few weeks and it does have its good sides. It’s easy to read and doesn’t deviate too far from the comfort of the Rider-Waite system. I wouldn’t say it’s going to usurp my favorite deck (The Mucha Tarot) but it’s not going into that box in my attic anytime soon either. The Byzantine Tarot would be great for readings with clients from a Catholic background, especially if they really want a reading but feel like they might be doing something wrong.
The producers of this deck stated they tried not too make it overly Christian, BUT, I mean, come on, it’s a deck full of early church iconography, so it can’t really be helped…
So, there it is; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s by no means perfect but if you’re drawn to iconography, or your Catholic and feel more centered around biblical images then this would be a great match for you.
*Warning. Do not get involved with either tarot or oracle cards if you are in any way in doubt of their safety. Be firm and clear with yourself before bringing a deck into your home. Personally, I don’t condone any attempt to read the future through the cards. They really suck at predicting the future so there’s no point. What they are good at, however, is self-awareness and self-diagnoses.*
I’m not going to get into the history of tarot because, for one, no one can verify the real history; it’s vague and open to the interpretation of scantily recorded historical events, and second, even a casual google search will bring up ten different versions of the story, anyway. The last thing anyone needs is yet another dart thrown at a board with no bulls-eye in hopes of getting at least somewhere in the vicinity of the truth.
What I am going to say is that, yes it does work. I used to think it was a whole bunch of silly, then, during a confusing point in my life I felt drawn toward a particular deck of playing cards, while I was at Walmart no less. Carefully, and praying madly about it the whole time, I purchased them. It was just a regular deck of poker cards with some pretty design on the back of them, but somehow I knew I’d find the answers to my questions within.
I did an internet search and found out how to read playing cards like you might a tarot deck, and then popped the big question. I got some serious answers right away, and found that reading the cards worked exactly in the same way as dream interpretation (which I’d already been doing for several years). Even though those answers had brought me peace, I’d actually put the cards away soon after, still struggling with whether or not it was okay for me to communicate with God in this way.
Soon after, I had a dream, where I was essentially told (through symbolism of course) that while the cards weren’t evil in and of themselves, I needed to use caution with them, because using them was sort of like putting my already sensitive awareness on steroids. Basically, I was warned to be easy with it, or risk kicking my empathic abilities into overdrive, sending myself into a tail-spin of confusion.
So, did I put them away for good? You bet I did! Just kidding. No, I didn’t. I bought myself a real deck of tarot cards and proceeded to drive myself into a Dark Night of the Soul. “Dark Night of the Soul” too, can be googled, if anyone is interested.
In the end, that Dark Night was necessary for me, to set aside some ego issues I was struggling with at the time. Now I’m able to control myself with the cards, so it worked out. However, I have the sense that God would have dealt with my issues in a gentler way had I not sped things up for myself by using the cards. I do still use them, but not every day. Often, I just pick one single card to meditate on for a while.
I do think tarot is great for self-healing, with a giant caveat. If you are in any way feeling neurotic, or have obsessive compulsive disorders then stand clear of them. Try an angel healing deck, or some other kind of gentle oracle deck instead. Or just skip out on them altogether and try keeping a daily journal to work through any problems you might be struggling with in your life. Journaling alone can be a great source of information. As you read back though your entries you will see yourself changing, growing, and becoming slowly more self-aware over time, even without cards.
Sadly, the truth is that we are most likely to turn to the cards when we’re not being our best self, so again, use caution and make sure you’re in the right headspace. It’s almost better to have already been at least part way through your personal “Hero’s Journey” before you even pick them up in the first place. And since there are other ways to heal yourself, like angel cards, meditation, good music, and positive life choices, I would recommend that those come first, tarot after.